Isabelle Mackay-Sim: This Dream of Flesh, 2018-2019
Isabelle Mackay-Sim’s body of work, This dream of flesh, reframes imperfect bodies through the abstraction and fragmentation of the figure. This series of body-scale ceramic sculptures depicts bodily forms that are often rejected by mainstream Western culture, and renders them in seductive pastel-coloured satin glaze. The result is a bubblegum fleshiness that simultaneously attracts and repels. Abstraction allows the work to be read compositionally, as a form, rather than a figure carrying with it the stigmatised connotations of softness and corpulence. These works aim to affect conflicting emotions in the viewer in order to encourage prolonged looking and, ultimately, a reconsideration of the marginalised flawed body.
The ceramic medium is ideally suited to depictions of the body: Mackay-Sim allows the soft weight of the clay to slump in places, creating naturalistic flesh-like folds. The artist’s own persona is visibly etched on the figure via the emphasis of pinch marks produced when handbuilding in clay. This texture leaves a tangible impression of the body on the surface of the work, and mimics puckered and pock-marked skin. Dark negative space beneath the forms leaves the underside unseen, suggesting private spaces that are mysterious and erotic.
Photos by Luis Power